Old Dogs and New Tricks

“You gotta be kidding”.
That’s what my previous old dogs were surely thinking when I commanded a new behavior, presented different food, and especially when introducing a new canine companion. “She’s gotta be kidding, right?.”

Reminds me of my own reactions when something new (scary/unfamiliar) comes along. “You want me to do… what? You gotta be kidding. There’s no way. I can’t do that.”

“You can’t teach old dogs new tricks” – an old adage we tend to believe as true.

But is it? True about your old dog? Possibly true about you?
NOT that you’re an old dog, but I bet you’ll agree that sometimes there seems to be no room or desire to learn anything new.

I think you CAN teach old dogs new tricks anytime, anywhere, if you offer them…

…treats! (brownies always work for me)
More importantly, treats like freedom to adjust, time to adapt, opportunity to ask questions and speak up, unlimited support AND permission to make mistakes.
When something new to do is introduced with goodies, most old dogs will surely give it a try.

Do you ever feel like you can’t take on one more software program or app, policy or procedure, one more rule, how-to, or piece of advice? That brain periodically feels filled up with no room for anything new, doesn’t it?

But when someone comes along offering the aforementioned goodies, “well maybe I can fit one more thing in there”, you might say.

Here’s an example:
I recently joined a team of webinar presenters and had to learn a new presentation platform. I’m familiar with 2 others and funny enough, had very little training on them, and whiz right through with no problems. Here comes this new fancy one with structured training sessions, practice time and a manual even! “This must be a big deal! Yikes! Can I handle this? I’m feeling a little scared! Bawww.”

I must say though, with each goodie – training sessions with a live trainer, feedback, practice time and manual, I got to feeling much more confident. “This is pretty easy and straight forward! I CAN do this!”

The icing on the proverbial brownies, the real goodie for me, was the team leader’s support and accessibility and this comment: “Debbie, give yourself permission to make a mistake. You’ll learn and get better with time.”

His support, belief in my ability, and that comment in particular made a world of difference. “I CAN do this, for cryin’ out loud!”
Permission. To make a mistake. To learn from and go on. What a concept!
And I don’t need HIS permission. I need my OWN permission.

SO… what new thing will you tackle this week/month/year?
Tap dancing, PowerPoint, Public speaking, Money management, Getting along with so and so, Pottery, Home maintenance, Cheese soufflé, Twitter?

Learning new things creates a stronger brain, they say. Creating new pathways and connections, helping us be healthier and more resilient. Continuing to learn and grow helps us to move onward and upward with our lives.

SO…let down your guard, be a little vulnerable, throw caution to the wind even. Give yourself permission to try something new AND not be perfect at it! Make mistakes, learn from them and try again. Baby steps matter. It’s all a process, this thing called Life.

Teaching old dogs new tricks

An old dog named Sam

Choose to have a great week!


  1. Pia says:

    Thanks Debbie! I need to be reminded that I can make changes- start doing things differently.

  2. Bob Speakman says:

    Thanks, Debbie.

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